The fight isn’t over. This boxer is throwing punches for a new start
Joel Liborte’s life has been one fight after another. Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, he witnessed military and gang violence before he could even walk. Liborte’s family were constantly on the move, surviving each day to make it towards a better life. When the young boy reached South Africa, he believed that he’d find solace. But the xenophobia and immigration struggles delivered blows that Liborte wasn’t prepared for. Without a solid home or identity, frustration stewed inside of him with no room to escape. Until a friend introduced Liborte to a positive form of combat. After discovering boxing, he unleashed his inner power. This time, Liborte is always ready for whatever life throws at him.
“I never knew fighting could be used for good,” Liborte says. As he developed his strength through boxing, his character and confidence grew. “Boxing teaches you self-expression,” Liborte says. His gym, Fight with Insight, aims to promote boxing as an alternate form of therapy. When Liborte joined in 2015, they thought that with his quiet persona, he might be unfit for boxing. It wasn’t until he took to the stage that Liborte proved himself to be a powerhouse in his own right. “I would never combat in the streets,” he says. “But in the ring, I can let loose.”
The fight is not yet over. Liborte may have won the first round against a tough upbringing, but he is still striving for a champion title outside his home country. Foreigners cannot compete for national or provincial titles. But through his strength and together with his newfound team, Liborte is rising to the top. “I am very grateful for finding this family in South Africa,” he says. With perseverance and a positive stance, every punch Liborte throws lands on the mark of a legend’s tale.